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Friday, 18 January 2013

TV Review: Come Dine With Me

Duration - 2005 - present (Channel 4)
No of seasons: 22 to date 
Produced by Granada Productions and Channel 4 Television Corporation 
Cast: Dave Lamb (presenter)

The Reality TV Cooking Series

A group of 4 or 5 people, most notably strangers, compete for the £1k cash prize and the title of ultimate dinner party host on 'Come Dine With Me'.

Debuting in 2005, the show has become such a hit in the U.K, its success and format has resulted in the series being exported to more than 10 other countries.

Come Dine With Me works by having each of the contestants taking turns in hosting their own dinner party efforts and the others rank those efforts out of 10.

The scores are then accumulated and the person with the highest score at the end of the week wins the prize money.

In the celebrity version, the rules from the original version still apply but this time round, the winning prize money is donated to the winner's charity of their own choice instead. I like the celebrity versions slightly more as I find them more entertaining and amusing.

One time however, there was a celebrity, make that reality TV star Jasmine Lennard, whose behaviour and attitude was so appalling, she threatened to 'glass' one of the other celebrities. Producers rightfully intervened though and removed her from the show. 

Anyhow, the dinner parties tend to be a very informal affair, although there are instances where a dress code is required, when say it is a themed evening and the guests are expected to turn up in the appropriate attire as stated on their invite.

Commentary on the show is provided by comedian Dave Lamb.

When One Stands The Heat

There tends to be one person within that group who is put in there by the creators, just to generate hostility and perhaps make the series more interesting to watch. Yet sometimes, their behaviour can irritate or anger both the group and audience watching them and thus, provoke a reaction out of them. Personalities can clash and on this programme; there are instances where this has happened on a number of episodes.

What sets Come Dine With Me apart from other cookery shows or programmes about food itself, is it is not so much about the dishes and the menu they put out themselves. Rather it's more about perceiving people's attitudes towards other people through their food, their mannerisms, how they convey themselves and their personality on TV. Therefore, it has that voyeuristic, fly-on-the-wall, reality aspect and feel to it that makes the series quite intriguing but also for others, this can make the show off-putting for them.

There is that criticism that Come Dine With Me is more to do with taking cheap shots at people and humiliating them than the preparation and cooking. You have people saying nice things about the host on their food or their hosting to their face. But when they are in a room by themselves in front of the camera crew, they say nasty, bad things about them.

I also find some of Dave Lamb's commentary regarding the contestants either sarcastic and a bit witty, - or downright rude and spiteful. It really depends on the types of characters on the series and whether the put-downs are deemed necessary and fully deserved as they ought to be.

But it does give it the entertainment factor the show needs.

I very much doubt that another broadcaster such as the BBC and ITV would commission and air a show like this. Yet Channel 4 have struck gold with Come Dine With Me.

Some have labelled it the 'Big Brother of fine dining'; my disliked episodes are the ones where the nasty person who criticises, nitpicks everyone's cooking and manages to make disparaging comments ends up winning the cash. Although thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.

Final thoughts:

Although Come Dine With Me is an entertaining and at times amusing effort, the behaviour and sneaky comments and remarks made by some of the contestants and the host of the show can get to people and rub them up the wrong way.

The scoring system is good; although (sadly) there is a tendency (and discrepancy) by some people to mark others down for non-tactical reasons, other than their cooking and conduct; i.e. because s/he doesn't like the other person when that person has done nothing wrong and/or said nothing bad to them.

If you love food and intend to see past all the back-biting, backstabbing and rude comments, Come Dine With Me is interesting viewing nonetheless.

Especially for a series that I wouldn't ever consider partaking in myself.

Out of ten (Overall): 7

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